To Give or To Hoard?

Modelling a Swimsuit

Modelling a Swimsuit

I buy my 4 year-old-daughter (we’ll call her L) nice clothing.  Not the nicest, but stylish and pretty.  But I don’t just buy something because it will look cute on her – I also buy so I can sell it later.

It began when we lived in Illinois for a (cold) spell, the moms group I joined had a major resale event, selling every child item you can imagine.  It happened to coincide with our move to Dallas, so I sold almost all of L’s clothing I was holding on to – from her birth to her just-grown-out-of size 3T.  It was a LOT of clothing, a lot of work, but I made bank!  I never knew hand-me-downs could be so lucrative.  I thought people just gave them away.

When I got to Dallas, I found a private resale business that works much like the one in Illinois.  They hold a huge event twice a year in my city (Spring and Fall).  I organize my clothing and they organize the logistics.  Three days after the sale, I get my check.  Getting the clothes entered online, labeled, checked for stains and hung correctly (you wouldn’t believe the emails I get about the right hangers to use) is time consuming.  However, the lure of the cash keeps me going.  When I sort through the piles of t-shirts, dresses and skirts, I look like a Hanna Barbara cartoon character with dollar signs in my eyes.  Recently I bought two dresses from Land’s End and got pissed when I saw grease stains on the front after their first wash.  My husband said, “She can still wear them,” and I said, “But I won’t be able to sell them!”  Obsession is too big a word, but certainly I am overtaken by the competitive spirit of the sale.  Can I get $10 for this Polo dress she only wore once?  Will they notice the yellow mark on the back of the Osh Kosh t-shirt sleeve?  What will people pay for a Target brand?  I am a goal oriented person, and the entire affair feeds into this desire to start, work on and finish a task with success.  Besides, I get a couple hundred dollars that I get to spend on, you guessed it, more clothing!

Right now, I have a pile of out-grown clothes waiting to be inspected and sorted.  I have winter things that can’t be put into the next Spring sale.  That means perfectly good coats, sweat pants and shoes will sit in my closet till next August.  Therein lies my dilemma.  We have needy people in my county.  We have a woman’s shelter that collects clothing for children, not to mention the postcard I get every two weeks from various charities looking for donated items or the bag hung on my door where I just stuff it and leave it on my porch.  I don’t even have to call.  At this difficult time, when needs are growing and giving is slowing, is it right to hold onto that adorable plaid Old Navy coat that I KNOW I can get at least $12 for next year when some little girl could really use it?  I give the stained clothing (wearable but not sellable) to charity.  So, I’m giving them the not-good-enough stuff?  When did I become haughty?

So, what do I do?  Do I give away the nice, winter-appropriate things because it is the right thing to do?  Or do I hoard them for my own needs and just give whatever I was already planning to give?  Do I have another option?  Help me resolve this problem – it is getting cold outside and no one is getting anything until I figure this one out.  Least of all me.

UPDATE: I appreciate all of the comments.  To answer the most mentioned plan, the tax write-off, I don’t own my home and we haven’t found tax write-offs to do much for our bottom line (that doesn’t keep us from doing them when appropriate, however).  After considering the advice given, I have decided to give away the warm clothing to charity but keep the toys given to my daughter that she hasn’t opened yet and use them for gifts for classmates (they are from her birthday and she doesn’t even know they exist).  This way, I am saving money by not having to buy gifts and doing something good for others at the same time.  Thanks for saving me from a year of feeling guilty by holding on to those clothes!

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6 responses to “To Give or To Hoard?

  1. Alternatively, you could request a receipt when you donate, donate some of the more expensive stuff, and then you can claim it as a deduction on your tax return.

    Lots less work, you still get a benefit of the tax cut, and you also get to feel good about donating good-enough stuff, too.

    Maybe?? Just a suggestion.

    It sounds like a HUGE pain to go through all the clothes… kinda like Ebay. ICK.

  2. This is a hard one and I’m struggling it with myself (with my own clothes – my kids’ clothes are NEVER in any kind of condition to sell after she wears them more than once). I say there’s nothing wrong with saving them to sell when you know that the money is ultimately going to help your family. Besides, I suspect that there’s no shortage of donated used clothing around here, so it’s not as though there are women and children in local shelters without anything to wear.

    I vote that you keep the clothes for next year and help at a food bank instead.

  3. Assuming you own your house, get a receipt from the charity and use it as a tax write off. Most of the time the receipts leave the dollar amount up to you, so you can put in the amount you would have gotten at your sale. It’s not quite as good as the cash, but it will help with the tax bill and make you feel like a good person.

    Whatever you decide to do though, don’t look back once you do it. If you give the clothes away don’t spend the next year thinking “i could’ve got $15 for that”

  4. Ok, I would definitely donate the winter stuff & take the small tax write off. You’ll know you did something good and some little girls will be warm (& stylish). If you have summer stuff too then just take that to the big event. This way you have done half and half. Does this make sense?

    Oh, I think it ‘s completely hilarious that you have an obsession with this selling of the clothes. I found a great kids consignment shop when we were living in Louisiana for a while. My goal was to never buy new again. Just keep recycling at this shop. Didn’t quite work out, but I was overwhelmingly obsessed with the idea!

  5. I agree with Linda’s suggestion. I’m gonna take a big leap here and assume that you are not destitute and whatever money you might not get because you donated the coat is not going to mean you can’t put food on your table that day…